Tuesday, December 29, 1998

Here we are, paying dearly for those weird little tins of fish eggs and making pre-emptive purchases of Alka-Seltzer in preparation for The-Last-Year-before-the-Year-2000. Sadly, there is still no answer to the vital questions of the day:

Are you rich yet and, if not, why not?

You cant blame it on the stock market. You cant blame it on real estate, either. (Unless you invested in REITs.) All I can say is— thats what you get for devoting a single second to thinking about Monica and Bill.

To help prepare you for the Last Year of Civilization and Personal Finance As We Wow Know It Ive gathered these news flashes from the future, my fearless predictions for 1999:

A New Fad—Single Resident Office Tower Makeovers— Will Eliminate the Surplus of Office Space. Frustrated in the Gigantic Executive House Race, a major executive will unwittingly start the ultimate status trip when he buys the Empire State Building and converts it to a personal residence. The new home will have 104 bathrooms, 3 bedrooms, and the World's Tallest Atrium. Before the end of the year there will be a new Space Race. Bill Gates will win by buying Maui and redefining the race. You Will Be Glad, Once Again, That You Have Never Won A Nobel Prize. Last summers Long Term Capital debacle put winning a Nobel Prize in a new perspective: never have so many people felt so good about not liking algebra in high school. But by the end of 1999 people will feel even better after another attempt at using mathematics to model the world markets blows up. The losses will be so great, there will no longer be a need to count, let alone do algebra. At Last, Free Dishware with Your Mutual Fund Purchase! With S&P500 index funds proliferating, mutual fund marketers will think deep thoughts about how to market them. The answer: premiums. Much like the old toaster-for-a-deposit ploy once employed by savings banks. Watch for free vacation trips, appliances, and computers from your neighborhood mutual fund company. "Rocket Science" Will Be Found, Somewhere. After 26,452,712 people have pointed fingers and said, "This is not rocket science!", making us worry that it never existed in the first place, a venturesome American will find it and show us what it is. "This IS rocket science," he will say. Unfortunately, no one will understand it. The First Teenage Retirement Plan Will Be Offered. After years of glowing articles on retiring at 55, 50, and younger, one of the personal finance magazines will win the Race for Premature Indolence with a clever investment plan. It will allow teenagers to accumulate enough money to retire by the time they graduate from high school, saving their grateful parents thousands in college tuition. Hint: the plan will involve a careful selection of misunderstood Internet stocks. Personal Bankruptcy Will Become A Political Act. An enterprising protestor, blessed by residence in a high-income zip code, will receive and activate 40 pre-approved credit cards in a single month and take over $100,000 in cash advances. He will give the money to the Sierra Club. His words in bankruptcy court will receive national attention. "I did it for the redwoods", hell tell the judge. The First Campaign To "Eliminate Internet Homelessness" Will Be Launched. The number of households with Internet access will, for the first time, exceed the number of households without it, making non-Internet households an endangered minority group. Both political parties, united at last, will launch "the war on Internet homelessness." They will promise two Internet Service Providers in every home by the year 2010. "Two chickens in every pot doesnt play well, now that Amarillo has gone vegetarian." Congressman Dick Armey will say.